Monday, November 12, 2007
Trick Shots: Action
Stop fast action with these tips on everything from shutter speed to lenses
Autofocus And Action
Autofocus (AF) is an amazing technology, but action can be a challenge for it. Moving subjects require the camera to find the subject, focus on it, then track the movement to keep the subject in focus, all the while taking pictures as you press the shutter release.
Pro digital SLRs and specialized digital cameras can have AF systems optimized for action. If you shoot a lot of action, and action photography is important to you, you may need to consider these cameras.
Most photographers can use their camera and its autofocus for action, however, if they try these tips.
• Start your autofocus early. Press the shutter lightly to get the autofocus going before you need to capture the shot or use a dedicated AF button if your camera has it.
• Use continuous AF settings. Single-shot will often frustrate you since the camera will only take a picture when it thinks the subject is in focus. Continuous lets you take pictures whenever you want. While that will mean some photos will be out of focus, the camera will usually catch up with AF as you shoot.
• Know your camera. Practice taking pictures with your camera on autofocus. You need to know what your camera can and can't do with certain types of action.
• Anticipate action for AF. If you know a certain action is likely to occur in one location, point your camera there and press your shutter to "prefocus" in anticipation of that action.
• Turn off AF when needed. Sometimes you'll find that your camera's AF just can't cut it for a specific action. You may need to turn off its autofocus. This will prevent the camera from suddenly searching for focus at the wrong moment.
A key element of action photography is timing. Without timing, you get movement of a subject, but not a high-action photo filled with impact. Often the difference between a casual photo and one filled with drama is in the timing.
This is especially true for sports with peaks of action, such as the high point of a pole-vaulter's arc or the tag of a base runner at second. With many cameras, the speed of the continuous-shooting option isn't fast enough to get the shot at the best moment. That best moment often occurs in-between shots. Here are some tips to follow.
• Know your action. Even if you don't know the sport that well, watch it if you can for a time, so you can look for peak moments that might be worth photographing.
• Anticipate the action. Shoot just before you think the action is going to happen. If you see the action occurring before you've started taking pictures, you've missed it. Our reaction time is just too slow to allow us to get a shot as soon as we see the action happening.
• Know your equipment. If you're fumbling with settings or turning on a camera that went to sleep, you'll miss your timing completely. Check your sleep settings. Be sure your camera isn't going to sleep during lulls in action. At the least, press the shutter to power up the camera anytime the action is getting intense.
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